TOMAS SCHECKTER ( ...
TOMAS SCHECKTER (#2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"It was OK. I think I had a decent time. It's not the best four laps we have done. Maybe there is a little bit more; we will see. Hopefully we can stay in the top 11. That is what I care about."
BUDDY RICE (#15 A1TeamUSA/DRR Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"It's going to be really close. We're going to have to wait and see. We slowed up a little bit since this morning. Some of that is going to be weather. Some of it is going to be the wind, just a little bit of everything. We'll just have to wait and see. It's going to be really tight. There are three or four of us vying for two spots. It's going to be really tight for that 10th and 11th spot."
(Being it's such a strange day, in years past you could go home right now. But you have to stick around to see how this thing plays out. What are your predictions?): "Yes, we're definitely not going anywhere. We'll see if we can squeeze into the top 11 here. We'll just see. We've had some issues the last couple of days that were out of our control, which held us back a little bit. But we'll see what we can come out with. But I think it's going to be close."
(Where is Dreyer & Reinbold headed? In your eyes are they moving up in IndyCar racing?): "Before the Kansas issues, which were once again out of our control, we were ninth in points. Three top 10's, and we were running good. I don't see why we can't keep that up. Right now, all the top teams have brought extra cars here this weekend. That's why the top 11 is going to be tough to get into for a couple of the smaller teams. We're going to have a chance at squeaking in there right now. Today's not over. Going out first, we know where we are at."
RYAN BRISCOE (#12 Symantec Luczo Dragon Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Hopefully I don't have to go back out. I'd rather not. We'll see. I don't know what to say. This is amazing, really. To be in front of the Target cars at the moment is a big surprise to me. They seem to have had something over us all week. The great thing is the team is a lot of guys working together. It'd be great for us to hold on here. So far, it's looking good. We really haven't been rushed into running the limit. This morning, we were getting close. The balance was perfect, but we knew what we had to do for qualifying. We've really just been watching the wind to see what we have to do with gears and setups. We really had a nice, consistent run. Hopefully I don't have to go back out today, but we have to be ready to do so."
(Regarding the IndyCar Series): "I love it. It was new to me two years ago. Great people. Any time I can come back, I'm happy to do so."
(Did the breeze have much of an impact today?): "I think I went about as quick as I've been all week without a tow. I think everyone's been thrown off by the tows out there with really high speeds. Really, this is what it's been like. It looks like where I had the advantage was over the four laps. We just kept the tires a bit cleaner and more consistent. I'm pretty happy at the moment. There's still a long time to go today. The car was really solid. It's the best I've had it so far."
SCOTT SHARP (#8 Patron Sharp Rahal Letterman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Those were the four fastest laps we were able to put together, and it shows that we able to get our hands on the car better."
(Comparing qualifying at Indy to other tracks): "Indy is unique in that it is a 2.5-mile track and most other tracks are a mile to 1.5 miles, so they are longer laps to begin with. Everywhere else, you need one good qualifying lap. You're on fresh tires. They are a little stickier, where Indy is a culmination of four laps. So the freshness of the tires are gone in about a lap and a half, so you have to have good handling to do the rest of the run quickly."
SCOTT DIXON (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"It's going to be a long day. We're not real happy with the car."
(About the weather): "It was so nice this morning. You come out now, and it's difficult running. The wind is going to change things a bit. If it picks up, it will make it worse."
(About the qualifying format): "I think it's cool. I think it is a very good way to do it for the fans. It's going to keep them on their feet throughout the day. It's fantastic, and it's good for me because I have another try."
(About the run): "We were hoping to put in a decent run to start with, but that wasn't the case. We missed quite a bit on balance. "(It was) frustrating, really. I think we were way under the window. The first lap didn't feel too bad. I thought it might come in a little more. We had lots of understeer. I was kind of thinking about waving it off to start with, but the team was adamant about putting in a time, I think. It is something we can at least sit on and work on later in the day. As the run went on, the push built, and I had to lift on the last three laps in (Turn) 1."
(About the racing conditions): "The conditions today are so different than what we've been running with. It's frustrating. I think we missed by a bit too much. We have a long day ahead of us. We have the car to do it. We just need to make sure we tune it the best we can."
(Is there is a scenario where you would not make another attempt today?): "No. Not if it was my decision. If some crazy thing, obviously, like rain comes, but we have a lot to work on."
(About running without a draft): "The best you can do is (practice) with no draft. It's hard at some points. I think through the week we've had some good runs with no draft, but the biggest change today was wind direction. I think all week there's been a tail wind going into (Turn) 3 or a cross wind. Today, it's going into (Turn) 1. It has affected everything you do."
A.J. FOYT IV (#22 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We dropped off a little bit from this morning. Obviously, the weather changes quite a bit. That's not the speed we wanted to (run). We really haven't found any speed this week. We probably have to wait until tomorrow." (About how comfortable he has been): "I'm comfortable with the car. The car's not bad. We've got it trimmed out. There's just some reason we're not getting the same mile an hour like the other (Vision Racing) guys."
(About whether he will run again today): "I don't see much of a point if we're 2 miles an hour out of the 11th place spot, and I doubt we're going to find it in the next hour or two."
(About the qualifying format): "It's exciting for the fans, I think. The top 11 makes it a really exciting day. It's going to be a tight day until 6 o'clock. Unfortunately, I probably won't be a part of it. I think it is good for the fans, and tomorrow will be good."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"The pole (Scoring Pylon) over there has a beautiful look about it, with the 27 and the 11 up there at the top. A rain shower would be good right now. I'm very happy. I think the relief will come at 6 if nobody goes quicker than us. The happiness comes from the fact that the whole Andretti Green team all year is finding the speed. Last year, everyone was commenting on the fact that we weren't as dominating as years past. I don't think we're going to dominate anyone, but we are there, and that's cool. A pole is always nice, but the pole here at Indy would be tremendous. Come ask me that at 6."
(If you keep the pole, Tony Kanaan says you won't be happy about getting up so early for the front row photo session): "If it stays like this with TK and me, 1 and 2, I'll get up at 5 tomorrow morning."
(About the setup): "We were doing a science project, Tony went one direction, and I went the other. I have to say, I liked Tony's (setup) better. I'm using Tony's setup. That's the breaks sometimes. So I have to say thanks to him. I don't know if it's going to stand up, but I'm looking forward to the race."
(About the run): "As soon as I saw the speed on the first lap, I thought, 'Ah, that's pretty good.' I was working all my adjustments in the car, as I was driving around corner to corner. Because the car was so close to the edge, I had to change it each corner. So I was busy in there. I had some information from Tony today that the track's like this. So I knew I could commit 100 percent to what I wanted to do. The last lap, I could feel my leg shaking a bit coming out of (Turn) 3 because all the adrenaline had kicked in. I knew it was a fast run."
(What if it doesn't stand up?): "I don't know. You think, 'Is the pole that important?' It's very important, but a position in the top few rows is what it's about. I think it would be stupid to throw that away. I'm hoping that it will be quick enough, but with two red cars and I reckon, for sure, Wheldon is going to tr y to do another one. It would be lovely for it to happen (to keep the pole) right now, but I would take a starting position in the first two rows and then go try to win the race."
(Where'd you find the extra speed?): "It's a secret. I have to thank the whole team, everybody at Andretti Green. Regardless if this time stands up, we have made so much progress in a year. Last year, we just weren't in the hunt with speed. And we all are now. The guys in the shop, everybody, is working hard, and my teammates. We're all on the same setup. We're all driving the same kind of car, and we're all able to help each other and that's big."
(What do you think of the qualifying format?): "I think it's very stressful for the drivers, but the fans love it. I'll be quite happy if I've done my qualifying for the '07 Indy 500. I don't want to go back out there. I don't think we will unless a lot of people go out quicker."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (#55 Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"It's very difficult. You know, four laps. Especially with this kind of wind. The wind pushed me out in Turn 1. It's very scary."
(What was your goal when this day started?): "Of course, I want to try to get into the top 11. I think we can get in the top 11. Maybe we're going to try it again. We'll see."
(Overall, how'd the car feel?): "In the morning, it had a little too much push. The engineer found a little more front grip. I think that was a huge gain for us. We're going to try it again. We're going to try a little different downforce, and we'll see this afternoon."
(How has this new format made qualifying?): "It's difficult, especially with this wind."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
(How do you feel about your run?): "So-so. If I could have done in the first two laps what I did in the last two laps, I'd be a lot happier. I think we're going to have to requalify."
(Did your team surprise you at all today?): "Yeah, I think Tony (Kanaan) showed that we had speed as a team yesterday. Today, Dario went out there and did a beautiful one. I hope it holds up."
(Why is this worth coming back year after year for just this one race?): "I really wanted to come back this year because I thought as a team we were going to be more competitive than last year, and we are. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get my car up there with the other ones. That's the challenge we have, unfortunately, that I didn't think we were going to have this year. I came here only because I want to win it."
(Did you think you're safe today, though?): "No, I don't think so. I think we're going to be right on the bubble. If I could have run a 222.9 or 223.0 average, I think I had a shot at it. I think you'll see Carpenter requalify. I think you'll see Simmons requalify and Buddy Rice, as well. It's far from over."
(It was never like this in the old days was it?): "No, it wasn't. It's really, tough on the nerves, for sure."
(As a team owner, talk about having three of the top five qualifiers): "I very proud of the team. They've done a tremendous job, especially the teamwork with Tony and Dario. Tony did some things during his run that they passed on to Dario that worked for him. It was teamwork, again."
(Do you still get any butterflies or goose bumps when they tell you to go qualify here at Indianapolis?): "Nothing like it -- big time."
ED CARPENTER (#20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"It's not bad. Today, everyone was a little slower than this morning, than what everyone was expecting. The time I put up, I think is borderline right there for what will take to top 11. I'm confident, confident that it can keep us in there. If we have to go out and get some more speed later, we will. But we are going to sit on it until later in the day."
(Tell me about your week. We keep hearing that people are surprised to see Ed Carpenter so high. You guys seem to have had a pretty good month so far.): "I feel that they say that every time I run good anywhere. It's like eventually people are just going to have to start giving me a little respect that I can actually drive these things. It doesn't surprise me at all. The team has done an awesome job. I've got 100 percent confidence in the team. This is what we are working for right here at Indy."
(Did you get out of it what you had hoped to in this first go-round of qualifying?): "I think so. We were going to go out with a little less downforce. It was getting hotter, so we decided to put a little in so I could do what I did, to go out and put four good ones (laps) down. That number that I ran is right about where we think it takes to go top 11. See if we are right, see if we are wrong. But at the same time, I think there is more speed in the car if we need to get some more out of it. But I think there is more there."
Continued in part 2